Much of the Atlanta Hawks’ recent decimation of the league has come on the road, where they’ll make one more stop before returning for a lengthy and potentially record-breaking stay at home.
To have a chance at grabbing a piece of franchise history, though, they’ll have to change their luck at the United Center.
The Hawks try to match the second-longest winning streak in franchise history at 12 Saturday night while looking to end a particularly inept six-game road skid against the Chicago Bulls.
Atlanta (32-8) has won 25 of 27 games since Nov. 28, the best extended stretch in the NBA since Miami won 27 straight two seasons ago.
The Hawks have won in half the arenas in the league in that stretch including their own, where after Saturday’s game they’ll return for a seven-game homestand that features just one team above .500.
Mike Budenholzer’s club hasn’t lost to a team with a winning record since before Thanksgiving, and it’s been doing most of its damage away from Philips Arena in 2015. Seven of Atlanta’s nine wins in January have come on the road, with Friday’s 110-89 rout of Atlantic Division-leading Toronto ranking as perhaps its most impressive of this 11-game run.
”I feel like we have very good rhythm right now,” said Al Horford, who made all eight of his field-goal attempts as the Hawks shot 60.9 percent. ”I feel like all the pieces are starting to come together, we’re starting to figure each other out and how to play together. That’s why (we’re having) the success.”
The Hawks hadn’t won 11 straight since 1997, and with a victory in Chicago they’ll be within two games of the longest run in franchise history – a 14-gamer early in the 1993-94 season.
”We’re just in a good groove,” said Jeff Teague, who has 25 assists and two turnovers in his past three games. ”Guys want to win and we’re trying to win every game.”
They’ve already beaten the Central-leading Bulls (27-14) once, a 93-86 home victory Dec. 15 behind 21 points from Horford, but winning at the United Center could be one of their biggest challenges. Atlanta has lost six straight there while averaging just 76.0 points.
The west side of Chicago hasn’t been particularly accommodating to the Bulls lately, either. Tom Thibodeau’s team has lost three of four on its home floor while shooting just 41.2 percent.
Accuracy wasn’t an issue in Boston on Friday. The Bulls shot 53.9 percent – 13 of 25 from 3-point range – and Derrick Rose had perhaps his most complete game of the season with 29 points and 10 assists in a 119-103 win.
Rose is shooting 56.1 percent in his last three games after a seven-game stretch in which he connected at a 27.9 percent clip.
”Derrick was great on both sides of the ball and that’s huge for us,” Thibodeau said. ”What you’re seeing is Derrick is getting stronger and stronger, he’s gaining more confidence, and he’s getting that edge back.”
His shot wasn’t falling last month against the Hawks, as he went 6 for 21 and had six turnovers.
The former MVP has especially struggled on the second night of back-to-backs. In the five he’s played, he’s averaged 12.0 points and shot 34.8 percent, missing 22 of 25 from 3-point range.
Teague, on the other hand, is shooting 50 percent and averaging 19.2 points in the nine he’s played.
Horford, Paul Millsap and the rest of the Hawks front line didn’t have to deal with Joakim Noah in last month’s meeting, and they likely won’t have to again. Noah missed Friday’s game with a sprained right ankle – he still picked up a technical foul from the bench – and is scheduled to have an MRI Saturday.